Well, my solitary interlude is coming to an end. I’ve enjoyed the peace and quiet of my days but I’m ready to get back to the real life! I’ve been eating very healthy and have satisfied my cravings for all sorts of salads and patties.
This Asian chicken salad is possibly one of, if not my absolute favourite! It has everything I love: crunch, colour, taste, flavour, heat, tang, freshness, nutrients and protein! I could go on and on…
The first time I’ve tasted it was, way back when I was a kid living in Niamey, Niger. Where’s that you’re asking? West Africa! There was a Vietnamese restaurant, ‘Le Dragon d’Or” ( the Golden dragon) held by a nice family. Thinking of it now, it was completely unexpected to see a Vietnamese restaurant in the middle of West Africa but I guess it was there for a reason because that’s where all the magic happened. My taste buds discovered flavours they would never forget! Actually I got addicted from day 1.
This unforgettable salad starts with chicken BUT I’ve also made it with prawns and it was just as magic! You could use leftover roast chicken or you can steam or poach chicken breasts. I personally prefer to buy a rotisserie chicken, it’s a lot quicker and easier. Once you’ve got your chicken you need to finely shred it. This can take time but it’s all worth it. It allows all the juices from the dressing to tenderize each morsel and helps the flavours to really infuse the chicken meat. It’s a great job to give to kids and if you don’t have kids then perhaps get your hubby to roll up his sleeves and start shredding!
The vegetables: I use carrots and cabbage (any colour will do). I have been known to buy those ready-made coleslaw packaged mix 🙂 but honestly it’s quick to do and at least you can certify the freshness of the mix. Then, I sometimes add rice vermicelli if the salad is going to be my main meal. I’ve tried this salad with soba noodles but I do have a preference for the rice vermicelli which you can find in any supermarket. If I can find them in Angola, I’m sure you’ll easily find them. If you don’t want to add vermicelli to it, then that’s fine and to make a meal out it, you can serve the salad with some steamed rice. It’s really up to you
Herbs: very important!! You’ll need coriander and mint. It’s very important that you don’t skimp on your coriander. You need to have enough so that each mouthful bursts with that coriander flavour! Actually each mouthful should burst with ALL the flavours. Although I chop my mint leaves, I leave the coriander leaves whole. I remove them from the stems. I know the stems contain a lot of flavour but they really aren’t necessary in this salad.
Now that you ‘ve got your base done, you need to make this delicious and healthy asian dressing. It all very Yin and Yang with heat from the ginger and the chilli, sweetness from the pinch of sugar, bitter from the lime juice and the rice vinegar and sour from the fish sauce. Umami!
Please let me know if you try this recipe, I’d really like to hear from you!
Asian Chicken Salad
- Either 300-400 of chicken breasts or 1 rotisserie chicken minus drumsticks and wings
- 300 gr shredded cabbage, I like purple for the sweetness and colour
- 1 onion, finely sliced or 3-4 spring onions, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, grated
- 20 gr of coriander leaves (1/2 bunch)
- 10 gr mint leaves (1/4 bunch), chopped
- 1 chilli, deseeded or not..depends on your tolerance level
- 45 gr ( about 1 cup) of rice vermicelli noodles
- Toasted sesame seeds to garnish
- 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- 1 Tbsp nuoc mâm (fish sauce)
- 1-2 Tsp sugar depending on your tastebuds
- 1 Tbsp grated ginger
- 2 Tbsp oil preferably not olive oil, you can replace a bit of your oil with sesame oil
- Cook rice vermicelli noodles according to packet instructions.
- In a big salad bowl, add all the shredded vegetables, the shredded chicken and the herbs.
- Toss the cooled rice vermicelli noodles and with your fingers make sure that all ingredients are well mixed.
- To make the dressing: Put all the ingredients in a jar and shake well to mix.
- Pour the dressing on the salad WHEN you are ready to eat it. Mix well, using your fingers making sure that the noodles are well integrates with the rest of the ingredients. Add the chopped chilli and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.